Shakespeare Saturday: Ira Aldridge

Heyyyoooo! Welcome to today’s Shakespeare Saturday! While Nerd Cactus languishes in Twitter time out (our on-going battle of three days), we’re definitely not going to forget how we started: a blog about how much we like to read, write, and talk about Shakespeare (and giggle at funny internet pictures). Well, actually, we started as a couple of women who love Shakespeare but kinda hate Romeo and Juliet, so we were going to take matters into our own hands and make Romeo and Juliet great again. But the blog happened pretty soon after that (writing platform woo!), so… let’s get back to basics while Twitter is being dumb and ignoring me…

So, did you know that, once upon a time, it would have been considered HILARIOUS and perhaps even sacrilegious to have a black man play Othello? I am pretty sure people would’ve been less freaked out by a woman playing the role… especially once the Restoration happened and actresses started banging the King on the reg (See: Nell Gwynn). It wasn’t until 1997 that a black man played the role at London’s National Theater, and remained one of the final roles in which it was perfectly acceptable for men to don black face (See: Anthony Hopkins). But one of the first black men to play the role on the stage was a man named Ira Aldridge… back in the 1800s. And, England excepting, he was rather celebrated for his turn as Othello, the Moor of Venice (who later turns into a character in our novel, which I’m saying here because literally NO ONE has picked up on it yet).

Anyway… I’ll let this article discuss it, but do be sure to pick up a biography when you’ve got a chance.


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